A c t s 1 3: Must be Proclamation + Holy Spirit

This week we are seeking to dive into Acts 13 as we follow Barnabas and Saul further on their journey proclaiming the Gospel.

Sunday morning we took some time to look at some key phrases in the scripture as this is another way to go about studying scripture. Rob took us through a few specific phrases which we will talk about in a bit, but it’s helpful to continue the study yourself looking into other key words and things that stood out to you in the passage.

Go on right now and read Acts 13 in its entirety, and jot down to yourself some key phrases, words and ideas that the scripture is talking about.


Some phrases you may have written down during your time in the word:

  • while they were worshipping
  • after fasting and praying
  • sent out by the Holy Spirit
  • proclaimed the Word of God
  • hear the Word of God
  • filled with the Holy Spirit
  • enemy of righteousness
  • hands of the Lord upon you
  • astonished at the teaching of the Lord
  • sent a message of salvation
  • served the purpose of God
  • by him everyone who believes is freed
  • you scoffers
  • gathered to hear the word
  • spoke out boldly
  • shook off the dust from their feet
  • filled with joy and the Holy Spirit

This is not an exhaustive list as there is so much even in this one chapter to dive deeper into. While looking at the key phrases in Acts 13, there are two main things that a lot of the ideas bring together:

(1) proclamation of the word and (2) power of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the disciples’ ministry journey we get a glimpse into the lives of Barnabas and Saul. Here, we see how the two (proclamation and the Spirit) can and have to work together in order for the kingdom of the Lord to advance. You cannot have one without the other and the text in Acts 13 does a great job at pointing us to that fact as we dive in.


Read v. 1-3

“Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”

Even in these few verses we can learn SO much about the character of these men and their reliance on the leading of the Holy Spirit in their own lives as well as in their ministry.

  1. How do we know that the men here are dependent on God?
  2. What can we learn from the leaders of the church movement being unified in their fasting and worshiping? Is it helpful to see leadership together leaning into the Spirit to take steps forward?
  3. What do you think this time looked like for these men?
  4. How does vv.3 remind us that we are not alone in ministry? How does it show the body of the church?

A key phrase came up in our discussion on Sunday about these verses: See, Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul all were worshipping and fasting together– voluntarily!

Take some time here to meditate on worship and fasting. The posture. The meaning. The connection it brings between a Father and His children. The perspective change.


W o r s h i p : to prostrate oneself, (“to worship“) which means to bow down to God.

F a s t i n g : voluntary abstinence from food, a true dependence, showing a willing spirit to be filled by something greater than food.


Take a moment to go to the following references. Seek to understand how we must become like children, ones fully converted, offering ourselves as living sacrifice.

  • Romans 12:1-2
  • Matthew 18:3
  1. What does it look like to worship in both physical state and with ones life?
  2. Have you explored all that God has for you in your current lifestyle? Are there more things you could offer? More things to follow Him in? More things to fully change in your life?


Read vv. 4-12

“So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Another key phrase we looked at here: “They proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews” (v.5)


P r o c l a i m i n g: announce officially or publicly, declare, make known

Here we see that Barnabas and Saul proclaiming the gospel, doing so in a place where they were welcome to share the word of the Lord, in jewish synagogues. They were proclaiming, making known, the new completion of the law, the bringing forth of a new covenant, a new way of life following the Lord.

  1. What are you proclaiming with your life? What are you declaring with your life? What are you making known about your Savior by the way you live your life?
  2. So, where can you share the word now? In what areas, what spaces, in what friend groups do you have permission to proclaim the word?

While we must be active in our obedience to proclaim the gospel….

we must not forget the power of God and His Spirit!


It’s always Proclamation + Holy Spirit

When we rely too heavily on one over the other, we can find ourselves dealing with one of the following sin issues:

(1) When we are active to proclaim the word of God but forget to rely on the Spirit? Pride enters

(2) Reliance on the Spirit without active proclamation? Laziness enters


Take a moment to pray for your continued dependance on the power of the Lord and for a confidence in stepping out to proclaim the truth of the gospel .


We must be people who notice God’s power. We must be people who are not hard to amaze. We must be people who are continually in awe of the presence of the Lord. We must be people not described as scoffers.

Read vv. 13-25

Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, 14 but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” 16 So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:

“Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23 Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

Here we see Paul walking through the story of the Old Testament in vv. 16-25. Take some time to walk through God’s faithfulness to his people and what the people of the Lord walked through up until the coming of the Israel’s Savior, Jesus. Go back and dig into the stories spoken on, taking time to sit with the character of the Lord we serve.


Go on and read vv. 26-41 now.

26 “Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27 For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 

32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,

“‘You are my Son,
    today I have begotten you.’

34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,

“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’

35 Therefore he says also in another psalm,

“‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’

36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed[c] from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:

41 “‘Look, you scoffers,
    be astounded and perish;
for I am doing a work in your days,
    a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’”

What are some key phrases here in vv. 32-41 that stand out?


We took some time on Sunday to look into two phrases in this section

(1) “freed from everything” in v.39 and (2) “you scoffers” in v. 41.


Freed from everything

In vv. 39 we are reminded that by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. This freedom is new, something that when Jesus came it changed things. Before Jesus, the only freedom offered was that in which they found through living according to the law of Moses. Now, there’s a deeper freedom, a newness of life to be lived.

(1) What are some things that you have been freed from?

(2) How is the freedom that Jesus brings his people different than the freedom by the law of Moses?

(3) Ask the Lord to reveal what in your life would look different if you lived in the truth that you have been freed by a new type of freedom, letting the chains of sin and of this world actually fall off.


Scoffer: kataphronētēs; one who mocks, makes fun of, proclaims something as stupid, despiser

(1) What have you found yourself scoffing at over the last few weeks?

(2) What have you allowed yourself to mock, proclaim as stupid, to despise?

Maybe you have been stuck in a hard to please attitude during this time in quarantine. You look around at all the inconveniences, all the sickness, at the lack of “fun activities”. You have been unamused with this time and have found yourself grumbling more than you have been praising.

OR

Maybe you have been able to seek the Lord in the small things, allowing even the smallest thing to produce a sense of awe. You look at the text from a friend, the sunshine, the time in constant prayer with your Father. You have been grounded once again in your relationship with God and have been reminded of the realness of the power of the Lord.

Either way…let us press on this week to stop the scoffing and seek the Lord instead.


Read vv. 42-52 to finish out the chapter

As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. 43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.45 But when the Jews[d] saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
    that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Some Questions to look at in these verses:

  1. What can we learn from Barnabas and Paul’s boldness in vv. 46?
  2. What actually makes us worthy of eternal life?
  3. How were the disciples able to be full of joy in the midst of persecution being stirred around them?

A prayer to pray over this scripture in your life:

Lord, oh how thankful we are of your power, of your spirit, of your fullness. You have sought your people, you have freed your people and you constantly love your people. Thank you for showing us that in you we have everything we need. Reveal areas in my life that I have allowed my pride to win, reveal times where I have allowed laziness to take hold. Remind me that I need you, each and every day. Continue to make me aware of the things in my life you are doing and those things you are doing in the life of those around me. Lord, your power is something I want to recognize more and more.  Let me not be so hard to amaze, let me, as a child would, see each day as beautiful and new. Amen.

Below are some videos of us diving into Acts 13 with one another. Hopefully these help to continue the conversations about what the Lord is teaching us each week in Acts!

Rob Nicholes
Rob Nicholes